Family Magnetic Photo Wall
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Hanging photos is such a pain! How many times have you finally framed that perfect photo and need to hang it on a wall? But that means nails and holes in the wall and hours of laying out your design on the floor and then carefully measuring and marking and hammering in those pesky nails?!?!
(I know — I sound like an info-commercial! Haha!)
Wouldn’t it be easier to just move those frames around and, like Harry Potter magic, have them stay without any nails? Well several years ago I happened onto a great idea! We were in the process of moving out of our last home and I had to spend hours filling in those holes so the painter could paint before we moved out. I thought to myself, “I do not want to, again, have to place all those picture frames back up on the walls in the new home!” At that, a thought came to me with the idea of a magnetic wall. At first I tried the magnetic paint. I put on many many MANY layers and it barely held a piece of paper. I needed something strong, that wouldn’t look ugly and distract from my photos.
I finally found a fabulous guy who sells metal sheets, cut to the size you want, and they were even pre-primed for painting! Have you ever tried to paint on metal? It doesn’t work. So having the metal pre-primed is important if you want the metal to blend into the wall. If you’re going for the new galvanized metal look then no need for pre-primed!
There are 2 ways to have the edges done on a sheet of metal — flat or rolled. I thought rolled would be the safest way, so that no one could cut themselves on the edges. But those rolled edges didn’t lay flat. They stood out a bit. I didn’t love the look. (see A – not bad, but not necessary) So on the next try; I just left the edges flat. (see B) Then when I painted over the metal, these flat edges just blended into the wall and no one even noticed that I had a giant piece of metal holding up my frames. Also because they lay flat and are painted, I’ve never had anyone get close enough to snag their clothing.
How to do……
- Measure your space – Make sure you know the exact dimensions you want. It is impossible to cut metal sheets straight, with a smooth edge, on your own. So when you order it, have it professionally cut to the exact size you need. The maximum size of this kind of sheet metal is 4 foot by 10 foot with a 24 gage. So even if you have a large wall like I do in this photo, I could only fill the center of this wall. I could have cut two sheets of metal and filled the area, but I liked the look of all my photos in the center. Now order them from a local Sheet Metal Provider. Most places don’t deliver, so you’ll have to use a truck to bring these sheets home.
- Find and mark the support beams in your wall. Metal is heavy and you’ll need some serious 2-3 inch screws to go thru the metal and into the wall board and attach to the wall studs (wood) on the inside of your wall. If you don’t do this important process, your metal sheet could just tear your wall and fall down. Because we are not superman and can’t see through walls. Use a stud-finder! (not your Sweetheart!! Winkie Face here – too bad I haven’t figured out how to place emojis on my blog!) see a stud-finder in the photo to the right. Mark at the top of the wall above where you want to place the sheet metal and at the bottom under where you will place the sheet metal. You will need to use a yard stick or string to know where those studs are when drilling in the center area of your sheet metal.
- Now for this part, you will need about 3 big kids or a strong husband! Hehe! Have them hold up the sheet metal, flat against the wall, while you use an electric drill to screw in those screws. *Remember you need to only place and drill the screws along the pre-marked wall studs (that you made in step #2). This may or may not line up centered or along each corner or edge of your metal. It may be 5 inches from the edge on the right side of your metal and 15 inches from the left side of the metal. That’s ok. Those screws will be hidden by your photos and the extra metal will lay flat against the wall. (I placed a total of 8 screws for the 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of metal you see in the photo at the beginning of this article. My screws line up 4 inches away from the edge of the metal to the right and 9 inches away from the edge of the metal on the left side. And are placed every 2 feet vertically down the wall)
- Paint with a roller. After you have your sheet metal mounted on the wall. If you tape around the edge of your sheet metal (with blue tape specifically made for painters – order here), you don’t really need to repaint the whole wall. But that is only if you have the exact paint color you’ve originally painted your wall with and the wall’s color hasn’t faded in the sun. (TIP – it’s best if you don’t place your photos in direct sunlight anyway. So if your wall paint has faded, that might not be a good location.) Using a paint roller (I like this one, it’s easy to clean, not too small, but can fit in a pie tin full of paint.) instead of a paint brush, is a smoother, cleaner look when painting the pre-primed sheet metal.
- The kinds of magnets you choose to use DO make a difference. I choose the heavy duty ceramic magnets (see photo below). I use round and rectangle shaped magnets.
- Also, some frames are easier to glue magnets to than others. But I tend to make all frames work. Thick edges are best, but you can glue to the wood/cardboard backing of the photo frame too.
Frames don’t have to be expensive, but most all my frames are wood. And these strong magnets hold them great! And that’s all you need to know for making a great family history photo wall!
There are some great frame sizes for those odd photos. For example, the ones you print from Instagram! 4×4 frames or 5×5 inch photos (click here to order frames). Or those 8×10’s that really look better square and need to be cut to an 8×8 frame. Or how about the true size of a photo 8×12 . (TIP –Make sure when ordering frames online that you verify the size of the photo inside the frame). and my favorite 12×12 frames click here for those scrapbook pages that just need to be displayed for a month or two.
Some other uses for “Magnetic Walls”!
My older son took photography classes in school and a magnet wall was a great place for all his work. We didn’t frame anything but just used a bunch of magnets and walla – a collage of his art! Also, he had an important event in his life in our church and so it was simple to find 30 photos of the Savior and, with a roll of magnet tape that is sticky on one side, (magnetic tape –buy here) (magnetic buttons – buy here) I adhered it to the backside of the pictures and quickly placed those posters to fill his metal sheet on the wall.
My daughter – a teenager – always has memorabilia to save and display. Quotes, corsages from dates, photos from friends, award ribbons and certificates, and even some of her own art work are all exhibited on her “magnetic wall!” (Some fun birthday and Christmas presents we got our daughter was a Fujifilm instax mini camera and extra film)(a Kodak photo printer mini for printing photos from your phone. We liked the quality and ease of this printer and the extra cartridges) If you look carefully, you can see the square and oval white frames. They come in black too. They have magnets drilled into the back of the wood and can be cute to enhance and hold up a photo! (I found those at craft warehouse – sorry, you’ll have to get out of your PJ’s and go shopping :))
I have some favorite quotes I like to put around the house. The one in the center of my Family History Magnetic Wall is placed in a 12×12 frame. I put some scrapbooking paper on the inside of the glass and then had the saying “vinylized”! haha. And placed the vinyl directly on the outside of the glass. Then I placed the frame in the center of my magnetic wall.
Also, over time, I have collected photos of my ancestor’s “wedding pictures”. There are many that I don’t have. So for those that have no wedding photo, but I have a nice portrait of the two of them in their first year of marriage, I use that one. If I can’t find either of these, I have placed a picture of them side by side in a single frame. This wall has ancestors and current family members; it has grandpas who’ve passed away in the last couple years, and some of my favorite pictures of my kids. I love to walk past this wall. The pictures that I do have, grab me and I often find myself just gazing at the people I feel connected to. I hope this helps you also find a place in your home where you can easily add, change, and move around photos so you can easily fit one more loved one on the wall!
Have a fabulous day and remember, “We stand upon the shoulders of our Past!”